Saturday, 17 September 2011

Playin tae the strinths o the leid

Ah was interestit tae read Bruce Eunson’s thochts on yaisin Inglis alangside Shetlandic in his translation o a Chekhov story (the story itsel is comin oot in pairts on his blog, an a braw piece it is). He whammles the tradeetion o yaisin Inglis for narration an Scots for dialogue, pyntin oot that: “In modern day Shetland the majority of people speak a mixture of dialect and English, switching between the two over and over again throughout the day. A proper illustration of this is yet to be portrayed by a Shetland dialect writer.” 

Sae his narration is in Shetlandic, bit the characters spicks maistly Inglis, faain intae Shetlandic whiles. Ye get yaised wi the switchin, an it seems naitral eneuch. Some o the switches glegly merks a subtle chynge, e.g. in attention (awa fae the lassie an towart her dug), or in her view o hersel:
“… I don’t know myself what I am doing,” shö said, “Shetland fokk spaek aboot gittin tangled up wi an evil spirit. …”
Bruce says tae, in his spick on owersettin Rimbaud, that he enjoys the saur o a challenge that “pushes dialect down a road it hasn’t been down before, but certainly has the capacity for”.

His thochts, an whit he’s duin wi the twa leids in his owersettin o the Chekhov, certes rung a bell wi me, because Ah’ve duin somethin the likes o that in ma ain suin-tae-kythe novel, Braken Fences.

Be the time o the novel, China an India cairries the wecht o ceevilisation at least as muckle as the Anglosphere. The ongauns taks place in Central Asia, wi a clanjamfrie o characters wi wull deiferent backgruns, spickin deiferent leids. The narrative is in Scots, bit whan fowk is spickin Inglis (or Hindi) Ah gie thair wirds in Inglis. Thir fowk comes fae urban backgruns an haes a modren sensibeelity – they’re yaised wi objecks an ideas that wisna yit inventit or named whan Scots wis a fu-haundit leid boun for aa purposes. Thair wirds wad come oot wersh or thrapplet in Scots.

Bit yince the main characters is plankit doon ahint a Parteetiont Border on the wrang side o modernity, they faa amang fowk that leeves simpler lives, maistly concernt wi meetin thair immediate needcessities, in a mair haun-made warld, wi a short supply line fae the fiel or the hunt tae the buird. Thon is a settin that Scots can cantily express. Ah’m ettlin tae publish the beuk in Inglis as weill, bit Ah div think the Scots wirks better – because Ah’ve got that contrast atween the hi-tech, bureaucratic, corporate warld o Inglis an the haurder, tyaavin, organic warld o Scots. Sin that’s the emotional hert o the story, the narrative gings wi Scots an aa.

Forbye there are Neanderthals, an Ah’ve got the maist byordinar cheek – Ah’ve made thaim spick a kin o Shetlandic.

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